Saturday, August 29, 2009

Life Is Unpredictable

Michael Jackson was supposed to be buried today.

If by now you are unaware that his death on 25 Jun 2009 has shocked the world, you probably have been living under some rocks. However, many might have forgotten that on that same day, Farah Fawcett (FF) passed away in a hospital across MJ's. She was 62. After that fateful day, the world talked about MJ, MJ and MJ. Few were talking about FF.

Even though FF may not be as famous as MJ, she nonetheless has left a significant mark behind in the entertainment world. FF rose to international fame when she first appeared as a private investigator in 1976 in the TV series, Charlie's Angels. FF was also known for her hairstyle which was keenly imitated by many wannabes. In 2006, she was diagnosed with cancer and began treatment since then.

FF passed away on that day in the morning and the media was all ready to report on her death, probably in a rather big way. However, the unexpected death of MJ a few hours later had shifted a huge chunk of media attention away from FF's passing.

So, FF left this world fairly quietly.

Today is 29 Aug 2009.

On 29 Aug 1958, MJ was born. By the time he was six, he was already having a career in singing.

On 29 Aug 1993, he came to Singapore as part of his Dangerous World Tour. I watched his great performance and 'celebrated' his 35th birthday on that day.

On 29 Aug 2008, I wrote "Every Dog Has Its Day" and I described his life as rather reclusive at that time. He had obviously wanted to make a come back. However, just 18 days before his much awaited "This Is It" concert was to begin, he left the stage for good.

Exactly a year after I wrote that article, I am now writing about him being buried, on his 51st birthday. Well, at least that was the original plan. For reasons best known to his family, MJ's funeral will be postponed to 3 Sep instead.

Before his death, MJ had a wacky life. After his death, at least till now, he still has a wacky 'afterlife'. While the fans mourn about his death, the police are working on a possible homicide case. While MJ's mother fights for her custody rights over MJ's children, a few people came forward to declare their biological linkage to these kids.

Totally wacky!

Today, another public figure is also to be buried.

While Edward Kennedy (EK) may not be as widely known compared to MJ, he is a very notable politician. He passed away on 25 Aug 2009, exactly two months after MJ's death. He was 77.

EK came from the very famous Kennedy family. One of his brothers, John F Kennedy was the 35th President of the US, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963.
Another brother, Robert F Kennedy, was US Attorney General and later a US Senator. He too was assassinated (1968).

Coming from such a background, it is not surprising to find EK also became a US Senator. He served from 1962 till the time of his death and became the third-longest-serving senator in U.S. history.
If not for a motor accident in 1969 which resulted in the death of a female passenger, EK could possibly be one the Presidents of the US. It is believed that that incident had seriously damaged his political career.

Life can be totally unpredictable and fragile. We may live till the ripe old age or we may vanish tomorrow. It is no use worrying about when we will expire. We might as well be concerned about how we can inspire and aspire.

Take five minutes of your time and listen to Robin Sharma's podcast on "How to Live Forever".

Live life as if today is our last.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

No Kidding! Your Kids Have Two Lives

Cats have nine lives and we have two.


Chill. I am not about to discuss any myths or religious suggestion of afterlife. Whether you think cats indeed have nine lives or not, you ought to realize that many people now have two lives: 'real' and 'virtual'.

I began to adopt another life
in the past decade: a virtual life.

In my virtual life, I interact with people I know, I barely know and I know nothing about. This has become the way of life for many people as well. There is nothing absolutely good or bad about having a virtual life. It is about knowing enough to manage it. My life experience so far has offered some guidance on this matter.

Kids today plunge into this 'dual-life' as soon as they are old enough to have access to the Internet. Similarly, they may interact with people they know, they barely know and they know nothing about.

Here is where the problem starts.

While the adults have wisdom that come with age, the younger Internet users need more help on Internet safety. The Internet is a very useful tool. At the same time it is also a very dangerous place. Vices such as pornography, virus infections, online predators, cyber-bullying are not uncommon.

Whenever I have conversation with parents with young or teenage children, we inevitably would talk about their children. Each time I touch on the topic of Internet usage, many would be jumping mad on how computers have cannibalized much of their children's time.

Parents today are very concerned about how the Internet might influence their children. However, few are in the position to do much more than the usual parenting stunts: they control their usage and they pry. It is understood that all these would have come with a fair bit of nagging, counseling, scolding and grounding.

Is that effective?

When I was younger, my parents had to worry about what I did out there, who I mixed with and where I went to. It all took place in the real world.

Today, parents of young children and teenagers are having a greater challenge. Besides the tactile world, they now have to worry about their children's virtual lives as well. Similarly, they have to worry about what they do, who they mix with and which sites they go to.

Many parents are not savvy with the Internet. Even if they are, they are not familiar with the popular activities engaged by the young users. Besides the issue of time management, parents ought to be more aware of the potential vices the Internet can bring. This is not to say that the young users are to be barred from using it altogether. After all, the Internet is still a very useful tool.

Total avoidance is not going to solve anything. I am sure sensible parents would not advise their kids not to ride in cars and buses so as to avoid possible road accidents. Rather, they would advise the kids to be careful while on the road. It is the same with the Internet.

Parenting skill-set in this technology age would include Internet safety. It is never too early to equip yourself with it, even though your kids are still too young to lay their fingers on the keyboard.

Here are some useful websites which promote Internet safety for kids.


NetSmartz provides online and offline learning activities for parents to facilitate discussions with their children and teens about Internet safety. It also provides resources for educators and the teens.


This is the message for the Parents from the site:

"Parents need to understand that the greatest risk our children face online is being denied access. The Internet is essential to our children's education, future careers and lives. But even the most experienced Internet user doesn't understand how children use the Internet and how to help them have a safer and more enjoyable surfing experience."

There are also resources for educators and the young Internet users in this site.


This is a website committed to keeping young Internet users safe and help mothers to parent through technology. It also opens up an online community to anyone who cares about keeping the kids safe online.

Microsoft – Protect your family – Beyond the basics

This is a very resourceful website with articles such as Online predators: Minimize the risk" and "10 things to teach kids". You may also find the video on "Teaching Your Kids To Be Safe Online" easy to follow.


This site claims that it is "one of the oldest and most enduring sites for Internet safety." Whatever it is, you might want to check out the "Online Safety Quiz (for pre-teens" and "How to Prevent Sexting".

Besides the above websites, I have also picked some other relevant articles.

Protect Your Kids Online with Free Norton OnlineFamily
2 Addons to Add Internet Parental Control to Firefox
Preschool Online Games That Are Fun For Children
Keeping Your Kids Safe Online

The above are just some suggestions. There are many more similar websites which are ready to offer useful ideas. I hope you would use such resources to help you to help your kids. If you do not have any young children, you can help to refer this article to those who have.

Internet safety is everyone's responsibility.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Picture Blog #1 : Street Art

'A picture speaks a thousand words.'

We have all heard this saying before and few can disagree with it. We are visually stimulated creatures and the same image can bring about a wide range of emotions. I am no artist nor photographer but I love creative images in any media. From time to time, I come across many favorites and I thought I shall start sharing.

I will begin with pictures of street painting. I hope I can continue to bring on more favorites of mine. Feel free to shout in the tag box or drop a comment and let me know if you like this 'inaugural' picture 'article'.

3D Street Painting

This not a new art form and it probably existed since the 16th Century in Italy. The artists are also known as Screevers. A few centuries ago, they lived lives like buskers, doing street painting and receiving donation of food or money from passers-by. Today, street painting has gone anamorphic, giving greater emphasis to its optical imaging effect. For simplicity, let's just call it 3D.

In the last couple of decades, 3D street painting has been considered a modern art form. It is done in many parts of the US and Europe. I seriously think that the Singapore Tourism Board and the Singapore National Arts Council should introduce this amazing art form onto our streets. (Oh, come on, relax, this is not graffiti).

3D street art is not really 3D, of course. It only appears 3D from a certain perspective. See the pictures below and you will see how a 3D image is indeed 2D.

There are several renowned screevers in the world such as Kurt Wenner, Julian Beever, Tracy Lee Stum, Eduardo Relero and Rod Tryon. Let's sit back and enjoy our first dose of 30 'thousand words', which are great master pieces by Julian Beever.
(Let me know which is your favorite)

If these amazing images inspire you, you might want to watch a short video on how Julian Beever created one of his anamorphic street art.

Julian Beever's 3D Pavement Drawings

1. Two worlds

2. Beneath every carpark...

3. Worldcard

4. That hemmed in feeling...

5. Aiffel Tower Sand-Sculpture

6. Leaving an impression

7. Underground Bank

8. Batman and Robin to the rescue

9. Spiderman

10. White water rafting

11. Beneath every street ...

12. Taking the plunge

13. Waste of water...

14. Push the boat out

15. Time Square in Time Square

16. Pavement Picasso

17. Rescue
(to be viewed using an inverting mirror)

18. Pre-modernist and post-modernist

19. Let's be friends (with whales)

20. Oh crumbs !

21. Arctic Street Conditions with Soft Drink

22. Self-Portrait Of The Artist With Liquid Refreshment

23. Building site accident

24. About to meet Mr Newt

25. Yorkshire Water
(this was never completed, but still amazing)

26. Meeting Mr Frog

27. Rembrandts with Rembrandts

28. Portable Computer

29. Is this the real thing ?

30. Baby Food

"Everything you can imagine is real."
~Pablo Picasso~

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